The Great Exhibition of 18511 was a grand display of the advances of the industrial revolution, bringing about a transformation in the exchanging of ideas and the way new technology and developments in science are demonstrations. This included the building of the Crystal Palace2, which was a huge feat of engineering, which then spurred the series of events called the World’s Fair3, which lead to fantastical structures that we know and enjoy today, like the Space Needle in Seattle3 and the Atomium monument in Brussels5. A new TEDx lecture at Imperial College London6 last month channelled the spirit of the Great Exhibition and contained a variety of different talks and displays to delight anyone’s interest.
One of the first talks to catch the audiences imagination was the inventor of fabric in a can (Fabrican)7, which is similar to silly sting, but is versatile enough to be washed, cut and embossed, allowing for items of clothing to be created which are unique, personal and changeable. It is also a technology that can transition its application to the field of medicine, as it can be used as a plaster cast or a dressing for wounds.
This was followed by a father of a child with a rare genetic condition called AKU8, who gave a heart wrenching discussion of the work he set in motion: creating a support group, fund raising and bringing together a community or affected individuals and research scientists9. This has produced some breakthroughs for a previously little known disease and lead to the discovery that rare genetic diseases can actually act as models for very common multifactorial diseases, and so help develop improved treatments for these conditions.
Later talks included a demonstration from a group of young engineers who designed an electric car which could drive the entire length of the Pan-American Highway10, a man who played a series of gramophones with recordings of early industrial age sounds11, a talk from a geneticist musician who created pieces of music based on each musician’s genetic composition12, and a talk on reclaiming art with a focus on urban art13. Not only were the talks highly enjoyable and inventive, but there was the opportunity to discuss ideas with the speakers and get involved with their research. It was a wonderful platform to explore ideas and there was an exciting energy among the audience as they discussed the talks.
E Markham (2012). TED Talk Blogspot